Andrew Yang is a presidential candidate that is seemingly out of left field on the democratic stage. A single-issue candidate promoting a Universal Basic Income or UBI, Yang has grown in popularity nonstop since his campaign began in november of 2017.
The main theory behind UBI is that automation as well as other factors have been so negatively affecting the economy and job market that damage is now irreparable. Yang argues that Americans require $1000 a month in order to prevent further hemorrhaging of the economy. In fact many economists argue that a UBI would help grow the economy.
Yang’s plan for paying for the expected price tag of $2.8 trillion is expensive. On his website he claims that the plan would be paid for by reduced spending on welfare programs, a value added tax, new revenue from a better economy, and reduced spending on “health care, incarceration, homelessness services and the like.” this is because, he argues, Americans will be less dependent on these programs due to the UBI.
The idea for UBI is not new, it dates back all the way to Thomas More in the late 1500’s, it was also promoted by the American founding father Thomas Paine. The list of high profile advocates for UBI goes on, spreading across the political spectrum from Richard Nixon to Martin Luther King Jr. The universality of this issue indicates its political viability. While Yang is a Democrat, UBI is an issue that can stretch across the aisle and gain support from Democrats and Republicans alike. And now, for the first time, Yang has made UBI a central focus of campaign debates and discussions.
Yang is currently polling from 1%-2%, arguably higher than most would expect of a single-issue candidate. While only by a small percentage, he is polling higher than the other single-issue candidate Jay Inslee, who is running on a platform of climate reform who hasn’t broken 1% in most leading polls.
One of the other features which highlights the unusual nature of Yang’s campaign is his inexperience in politics. Making a name for himself as an entrepreneur he has surprised many with his growth in popularity. He wouldn’t be the only president elected without experience, though; the most obvious example against this misconception being current president Donald Trump who was elected to office with no prior political experience. On his campaign website Yang states “I’m not a career politician—I’m an entrepreneur who understands the economy.”
Critics of Yang’s campaign argue his math for paying off the cost of UBI doesn’t add up, and that he is too politically inexperienced, or that he is a socialist. While these are all important criticisms and it is arguably unlikely for Yang to win the nomination, it is important that he isn’t counted out of this race yet.
Yang is currently poised to make the democratic debate stage despite the new rules made by the Democratic National Convention to limit the number of candidates on debate stage, which is a big deal in itself. His rise in popularity means that the debate over UBI is likely to become a major topic of discussion amongst democrats and republicans alike.
If you would like more information on Yang’s campaign or UBI you may visit his website at https://www.yang2020.com.